The Democratic presidential candidates are still reeling from the first set of debates held in Miami last week. While the clash between Biden and Harris was likely the most discussed moment from either night, Warren’s declaration that she would eliminate private health insurance made news. And Buttigieg became the first candidate to announce his second quarter fundraising number, and it’s a whopper.
For these stories and more, check out AR/Intel’s 2020 round-up below:
Fmr. Vice President Joe Biden
If last week’s presidential primary debates in Miami proved one thing, it’s that Biden’s path to the nomination will not be a coronation. The attacks sustained by Biden from Kamala Harris and even Eric Swalwell could do lasting damage to his frontrunner status. But of course, it’s too early to tell, and Biden has sustained attacks in the past that most expected could hurt his standing with Democrat primary voters, and virtually none did any real damage.
Still, Biden supporters are coming out of the woodwork to defend their preferred candidate. Several of them spoke to Politico, some anonymously, about why Harris was wrong to go after Biden on this issue. And Biden backers aren’t alone. A Rutgers political science professor penned an opinion piece in USA Today arguing that the only way to advance civil rights legislation in the 1970s was to work with segregationists.
Meanwhile, Biden could have another serious issue brewing on the home front, namely his son, Hunter. In recent weeks, several outlets have raised questions about Hunter Biden’s international business dealings, noting that several of his clients may have been acquired when he traveled with his father, then the vice president of the United States. The New Yorker published a lengthy piece on Hunter Biden on Monday.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
During an interview on “This Week,” Sanders called the U.S. health care system an “embarrassment” and that the federal government needs to categorize health care as a right. Sanders’ proposal, a single-payer system, would bypass a public option in favor of government-run health care that would completely eliminate the private health insurance industry. The proposal would also “dismantle President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act,” a move that quite a few Democrats are not wild about.
Following Thursday night’s debate, the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board published a piece declaring Sanders the winner of the debate. No, not because of anything he said or did Thursday night necessarily, but because he moved the terms of the debate far to the left. Free health care, free tuition, free everything – Sanders’ 2016 campaign sparked the ideas for many of the proposals being seriously debated among the 2020 Democrats today.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Because of the sheer number of candidates, the DNC split up the 2020 contenders over two nights. And while most of the top-tier candidates appeared on stage Thursday night, Warren essentially was a loner on Wednesday night. Still, that didn’t hurt her standing among liberal audiences. The Huffington Post and Vox both published pieces stating that Warren “proved she’s ready” or that she “looked like” a winner. But while she appealed to far-left liberals last week, she also took a position that could hobble her general election chances in 2020. Warren raised her hand when asked who on the stage supports eliminating private health insurance in favor of a state-run “Medicare for All” system.
While many of Warren’s plans have focused on domestic issues – health care, child care, taxing the wealthy – she released a plan late last week focused on international relations. In a Medium post on Friday, Warren released a plan for how she would reorganize the State Department. The plan includes rules preventing wealthy donors from becoming ambassadors, revamping the diplomatic corps, and improving the lives of diplomats.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA)
No one emerged from the first round of DNC debates with more swagger than Harris. Her attacks on Biden were calculated, precise, and they felt devastating in the moment. Whether they will stand up over time is an open question, but she’s currently experiencing both a sizeable backlash for her attacks and praise from other corners of the Democratic Party. “Kamala Harris probably won the California primary in the first debate,” read one Los Angeles Times headline on Monday. Her campaign announced she raised $2 million in the 24 hours following Thursday night’s debate. But as stated in the Biden section above, she’s also on the receiving end of scathing criticism. Expect much greater scrutiny on Harris in the days leading up to the next DNC debate later this month.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-IN)
Buttigieg shocked the 2020 primary field Monday morning by announcing he raised $24.8 million in the second quarter of 2019. In the coming days, each campaign – including Biden’s for the first time – will release their fundraising data. Buttigieg’s campaign, obviously pleased with their haul, jumped out in front of everyone by announcing their massive figure.
Given remarks Biden made at a fundraiser last month, political observers expect him to clear the $20-million mark. And in the first quarter of 2019, Sanders raised $18 million – more than anyone else in the field at that point. So Buttigieg’s big number really puts pressure on Warren and Harris, the two candidates who on average poll better than he does. If he’s able to outraise them, he could make a strong argument among Democrat donors that he’s a stronger candidate.